How to Qualify for a Federal Pell Grant. Pell Grants are the most competitive forms of financial aid available to undergraduate students. Unlike loans, students don't have to pay back grants. Pell Grants typically go to students in greatest need of financial aid. If eligible, you may even be reimbursed for educational costs already paid, depending on individual circumstances. Read the following steps to determine if you qualify for a Pell Grant.

Indicate in a statement that you're not in default on a federal loan, you don't have a Pell overpayment and you intend to use this grant only for educational purposes. You must be a United States citizen or eligible noncitizen.

Apply for a Pell Grant by filling out the standard Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA.)

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Enroll in a program leading to a degree, diploma or certificate at an institution which participates in the Pell Grant Program.

Show proof that you're not in danger of incarceration nor have you been convicted of possession or sale of drugs while receiving federal aid.

Prove financial need. Although most Pell grants go to students with family incomes below $20,000, students with family incomes up to $50,000 may be eligible.

Maintain satisfactory academic progress, typically defined by the Pell Grant Program.


In the 2007-08 award year, the maximum Pell Grant award was $4,310. Award amounts change annually and depend upon several conditions.

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